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Consumer Reports: Advanced safety features getting standard names

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Posted at 4:00 AM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 09:27:56-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Do you know what safety features your car is equipped with? Some names may sound familiar, others not so much. And when you stack them up together, advanced safety terminology can get downright confusing.

“The names of these features are all over the map right now," says Consumer Reports Car Expert, Kelly Funkhouser. There’s a lot of confusion for owners of these vehicles that are trying to drive and use these systems as to what they do, what they don’t do, and even how to get them on their vehicle if they want them.”

Currently, 93% of new vehicles offer at least one advanced safety system, such as automatic emergency braking or blind spot warning. But AAA research shows that consumers may encounter as many as 20 different names for the same advanced safety feature. Take blind spot warnings for example. Honda calls their blind spot warning: “Blind Spot Information System.” Toyota calls theirs, “Blind Spot Monitor,” and on some GM models it’s called “Lane Change Alert.”

“So if they were all called the same thing then consumers would be able to understand what these technologies are doing and also be able to walk into a dealer and get a technology on their car that they want and be able to use it potentially for safety on the road," says Funkhouser.

And there’s some good news for consumers. In January, the Department of Transportation endorsed Consumer Reports’ list of proposed standardized names. While this endorsement doesn’t mean that automakers will be forced to use the new names, CR says it’s a step in the right direction.

“The next step of course is for all automakers to make these critical safety technologies standard across every vehicle that they make," says Funkhouser.

If you’re in the market for a new car, Consumer Reports strongly recommends looking for a vehicle with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, and blind spot warning.